For over a decade the war in Syria has led to the displacement of over half of the population from their homes. Of those, over 6.6 million people have found refuge outside Syria. In their exile, Syrian artists have continued their cultural and artistic production. In this exhibition, five UK-based Syrian artists showcase their work as they reflect on and engage with this year’s festival theme: Distance.
The artists featured include Ammar Azzouz, Khalda Alkhmri, Leena Sahloul, Manya Alkhmri, and Tarek Tuma.
Come along to the first of two exhibition tours to meet Ammar Azzouz & Khalda Alkhmri and hear more about their life and work – tickets can be booked at this link here.
Next, meet Manya Alkhmri & Tarek Tuma and hear more about their life and work – tickets can be booked at this link here.
About the artists
Ammar Azzouz is a London-based architect, artist and writer. He has been working at Arup, London since 2017, and in 2019, he joined the University of Oxford as a Short-Term Research Associate. Ammar completed his PhD in Architecture at the University of Bath, UK. He is also a Collective Member at CITY academic journal and an editor at Arab Urbanism. His work has been published on several platforms including the Independent, the New Statesman and the Architects’ Journal. His book on domicide, the killing of home, will be published by Bloomsbury in 2023. Twitter: @Dr_Ammar_Azzouz
Khalda Alkhmri is an artist working predominantly in painting. She previously worked as a director and coordinator of programmes for Syrian TV from 2005 to 2012, and has frequently exhibited her work. Khalda has a Masters degree in Fine Arts from Helwan University in Egypt and has multiple solo exhibitions in Syria. In 2018 she jointly exhibited at Rethink Rebuild Society in Manchester with her sister, Manya.
Khalda is a member of CIWA, a collective of international women artists based in the North-West of England. In 2017-18 the group of artists met through the Travelling Heritage Bureau project and participated in collective exhibitions and performances at HOME Mcr during Refugee Week, Thread Bearing Witness exhibition at The Whitworth Art Gallery with artist Alice Kettle, A Room of One’s Own at Zellij Arts, and Still I Rise at Manchester Art Gallery. In 2021, Khalda joined In Place of War Creative and Social Entrepreneur Programme and took part in Horizons Festival organised by HOME and Community Arts North West.
“My art work varies between the expressionist, the symbolic, and the abstract. For me, the work is always preceded by the idea, and is never random. In portraits, I focus on various being states, especially in women. I aim to move the viewer from one state of mind to another and allow for more than one interpretation depending on the viewer.”
Leena Sahloul comes from a design background, with a degree in Architecture from Central Saint Martins.
A distinguished humanitarian in raising awareness about the Syrian crisis through cooperation with multiple NGOs, her activities continue to be attended by many international forums in her roles of consultancy, global advocacy, media, design and marketing, communications, fundraising and programs.
She has been invited by multiple international media outlets including National Geographic and Facebook Headquarters to raise awareness on the Syrian crisis. Her artwork, articles and tweets have been published globally alongside her interviews on an international scale, raising awareness both through organisational and personal mediums.
In 2017 she won the International Design for Peace Hackathon in London in response to the Syrian refugee crisis in Europe. Academically, she has a talent for design and won the 2017 Grenfell Award for Social Conscience in Architecture for her work in concern for the problems and injustices of society through architecture.
Manya Alkhmri is a Manchester-based artist, born and raised in Syria. She uses different media and materials, focusing on painting and sculpture. She loves to explore nature and landscapes, where she can express emotions using huge spaces, colour and textures. She studied sculpture at the Institute of Applied Art, Damascus, Syria (2000-2002). She has a bachelor’s degree in Creative Media and Visual Communication from Manchester Metropolitan University.
Manya exhibited at Damascus Castle Gallery (2002), Alassd Library in Damascus (2004) and participated in Celebrating Syria Festival of Art and Culture in Manchester in 2017 and 2019. In 2018 she jointly exhibited at Rethink Rebuild Society (Syrian Community Centre) in Manchester.
Manya is a member of CIWA, a collective of international women artists based in the North West of England. Between 2017 and 2018 the group of artists met through the Travelling Heritage Bureau project and participated in collective exhibitions and performances at HOME Mcr during Refugee Week, Thread Bearing Witness exhibition at The Whitworth Art Gallery with artist Alice Kettle, A Room of One’s Own at Zellij Arts and Still I Rise at Manchester Art Gallery. Manya had also worked with the Arts Council in Manchester and delivered many creative workshops.
She is currently developing her art practice as a tool for activism to express her views around the issues she’s concerned about.
Just two months after having worked as a student of anaesthesiology in a Damascene hospital, Tarek Tuma decided to start a new life in London. Beginning in 2007, he was accepted into The Art Academy and later graduated from the prestigious City & Guilds of London Art School. Tarek is an artist and an art teacher based in London.